FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori, the leader of Fairfield County's Roman Catholics, was named the 16th archbishop of Baltimore on Tuesday morning by Pope Benedict XVI.
Lori, 62, was introduced at a news conference Tuesday morning at the Baltimore Basilica. The Archdiocese of Baltimore, founded in 1789, is the oldest Catholic diocese in the country. “The very thought of serving and leading the nation’s premier See fills me with joy and also with profound gratitude, first and foremost to the Lord who shepherds his people in love,” Lori said in a statement.
Lori will succeed Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, who served as archbishop from October 2007 to August 2011. O’Brien will remain as apostolic administrator until Lori’s installation May 16.
“I have known Bishop Lori for many years and have been impressed by his deep love of the church and her people, and by his extraordinary work both as Bishop of Bridgeport and as a valued leader on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop,” O’Brien said in a statement.
Lori is a native of Louisville, Ky., and received his master’s degree from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Ky. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1995 and served as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington until 2001, when he was appointed to his post in Bridgeport.
Since his appointment, Lori launched a major restructuring of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s 37 Catholic schools, after which nearly a third of the schools received the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon designation recognizing students for ranking in the top 10 percent of all schools across the nation.
Under Lori’s leadership, Catholic Charities in Bridgeport dedicated 22-supportive-housing apartments for at-risk families, providing housing and meals to those in need.
Lori has served on several committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, where he was instrumental in drafting the landmark Charter for the Protection of Children & Young People after the sex abuse scandal in the church.
In 2005, he was elected supreme chaplain of the Connecticut-based Knights of Columbus, where he oversees the spiritual welfare of the order’s 1.8 million members and their families.
"In the coming days and in the years ahead, I look forward to working with the priests of the archdiocese, visiting our parishes, schools and charities, and working closely with the laity, religious and deacons - indeed all whose witness to Christ and whose spirit of loving service enable this historic archdiocese to proclaim the Gospel afresh in our times and bring its truths and values into the public square," Lori said in a statement.